Seamlessly produced by El RTNC, DJ Skizz and Your Old Droog himself, the album is rich with classic rap themes, like the timeless rags-to-riches tale of going from buying a loose cigarette with pennies to smoking packs now. It nails the '90s New York sound almost a little too well, as many of his references will go over the heads of non-New York natives, but he does thug plug Nardwuar on "Droog's Anthem" which definitely gets him points north of the border.
The Brooklyn rapper doesn't seem to mind the Nas comparisons — in fact, he plays them up. By sampling the same '70s soul song on "Free Turkey" as Nas did on "One Love," and by proclaiming his debut "as sick as Illmatic" on "Loosey in the Store with Pennies," it's hard to tell if it's all part of his sharp sense of humour, a nod to his nasty predecessor, or a quasi-coattail ride. Either way, Droog has a knack for storytelling and he's a wildly clever lyricist, too. With a refreshing balance of bravado and self-deprecation, every single song on the album has a rewindability factor; many listens in, Droog stays surprising listeners with brand new punch lines and smart references. Plus, he dismisses haters with ease, as on his "Loosey in the Store With Pennies" remix when he raps, "Some cats just don't feel the sound/ It's not my fault you don't have a spine to send chills down." Other highlights that exemplify his excellent flow and lyrical prowess include "Nutty Bars," "Gunsmoke Cologne," "Free Turkey," the new "48th Street" and the nostalgic and jazzy "The 70s."
Though Your Old Droog is impressively solid, smart and funny, Droog has one stumbling block left to overcome, and only time will tell if he'll be able to extend past the niche market of total rap nerds and New York heads and escape being the guy who sounds like Nas. He should take some notes from fellow New Yorker Action Bronson, who defeated the same obstacles early in his career by escaping Ghostface Killah's shadow. Then, the world is his. (Empire Distribution)